June 27, 2014

Expert Insights: Digital Marketing with Stephanie Chen

We had a chance to sit down and talk digital marketing with Stephanie Chen, team lead from our Managed Services department. She provides a unique behind-the-scenes view of search advertising. 

Stephanie Chen

Q: Could you explain your role here at ChannelAdvisor?

A: Sure! I lead a high-energy team of campaign managers who drive revenue growth and maximize profitability through paid search marketing. We work with a portfolio of e-commerce clients on our Digital Marketing Managed Services team. We create and execute strategies to meet and exceed our clients' paid search goals by using best practices, leveraging our software and testing new features to continuously improve.

There’s never a dull moment: Our clients and industries are very diverse — everything from apparel to automotive — not to mention that the digital marketing landscape is changing by the minute. It's exciting to explore new opportunities and overcome challenges every day.

Q: What are three Google AdWords best practices you’d suggest to retailers?

  1. Despite new advancements, it's still all about the fundamentals. As you’re building out your account, I always recommend thinking like a potential customer. Then ask yourself, How can I make it as easy as possible for someone who's searching for what I sell to find me and then purchase from me?

  2. The overwhelming majority of our clients experience heavy seasonality, for Q4 at a minimum. If you have historical data, it's extremely important to review trends and top-performing keywords from the previous year and make sure they're in good shape (i.e., active and visible) going into high season.

  3. Remarketing Lists for Search, Enhanced Sitelinks and Merchant Promotions are some of the "biggest bang for your buck" features in terms of time they take to implement and how big of an impact they can make — please test these!

Q: Can you briefly explain the three features you just mentioned in your last best practice?

A: Of course!

  • Google Remarketing Lists for Search allow you to layer audience lists with search campaigns so that you can take advantage of valuable user traffic that’s already familiar with your brand. You’re able to leverage bid multipliers or even different ads.

  • Enhanced Sitelinks are the mother of real estate when it comes to taking up space at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). Think of Enhanced Sitelinks as giving you the ability to add two to four "mini ads" along with your main ad.

  • Merchant Promotions are effective at differentiating your Product Listing Ads (PLAs) from competition, showcasing unique offers and increasing your click-through-rates.

Q: Google is rolling out Enhanced CPC bidding for PLAs this week. How does this affect PLAs, and what does it mean for retailers?

A: I love it when Google comes out with a juicy new feature to test! Enhanced CPC (eCPC) bidding has long been available for campaigns other than PLAs. This bidding feature uses historical conversion data (so make sure you're using AdWords conversion tracking) and other factors, and attempts to gauge when a conversion is more likely. It will then increase your bid by up to 30% to be more competitive for the click. Conversely, it also tries to gauge when the conversion is less likely to happen — and will decrease your bid by up to 30% so that you'll pay less for less valuable clicks.  

 What other factors does Google look at? Some examples are a user's location, time of day, how many times you've watched the goats yelling like humans video, etc. In all seriousness, it does take the actual query into account, which is a big deal for advertisers since it's long been a pain point that we can't actively bid on keywords for PLAs. As always with new features, our team is testing eCPC bidding on PLAs for select accounts and will be measuring the impact — findings to come soon!

Interested in learning more about paid search? Check out our Tip Sheet, Energize Your Paid Search: 12 Top Tips For Boosting Your Strategy.

June 23, 2014

Prepare for the Road Ahead: Organize Your Google Shopping Feed

GSC Blog Header

So, one week in. How’s the progress coming along?

Not sure what we’re talking about? No worries — check out last week’s blog post for a recap of what’s happening with Google’s Shopping campaigns. Since the big transition will occur in August, let’s get this training started so you’ll be in tip-top shape for the holiday season.

We hope you now have a basic understanding of how Shopping campaigns work. This week, you need to focus on organizing your feed so you can make the most of your new campaigns. Think of Week 2 as the preparation that precedes your new fitness regime. To see long-term benefits, you should plan your nutrition and chart out all the aspects of a balanced diet. The same goes for your Google Product Listing Ads (PLAs).

Start preparing now while focusing on the end result. Here are some aspects of Shopping campaigns to keep in mind as you get organized and begin the transition.

Organize Your Google Shopping Feed

Re-evaluate Your Segmentation

Under the former PLA structure, product targets were the primary way of organizing campaigns.

Google then matched your data feed information from these product targets with the search terms people entered to best determine which ads displayed and at what cost per click (CPC). However, you weren’t able to further segment product targets to maximize individual product performance.

Now you can. Shopping campaigns allow you to organize and group your products into subcategories, such as Brand, Item ID, Condition or Product Type, and assign separate bidding values to each.

Take this time to reassess the current setup of your inventory feed. In most cases, you’ll probably need to reformat to take advantage of the further dissection feature — but trust us, the hard work now will pay off in the long run. It’s vital that your feed is properly aligned to take advantage of the new levels of segmentation.

Set Up Granular Bids

If it’s been a while since you’ve performed any maintenance on your feed, the transition to Shopping campaigns provides an excellent opportunity to get things in order.

Since Google is now allowing you to bid and sort on a more granular level, you want to make sure that your feed isn’t missing any important attributes, such as condition or Item ID, in your product categories that could potentially improve the visibility of your PLAs. Try to fill in as much information as possible.

If you’re finding that you have to add a lot of data, consider beginning with your best-performing products. From there, examine your existing PLA campaigns for underperforming products that have potential to be profitable.

Ultimately, these new levels of segmentation will help increase conversions down the road.

Create Custom Labels

With the introduction of Shopping campaigns, Google replaced AdWords labels as a feed requirement with custom labels.

Custom labels are a new way to label products in your data feed. If the standard attributes in your feed aren’t sufficient to properly group your products, try incorporating custom labels into your feed.

Retailers are limited to five (0-4) custom labels, so it’s best to define the purpose of the label and then begin mapping possible values. Also, since there can only be one label per column, it’s important that all descriptions are aligned under the proper headings. Creating a chart, like the one below, can help you keep label values in order when you finally input them into your feed.

Create Custom Labels

Plan for the Future. Act Now!

Organizing your feed and making sure all the information under your category headings is complete and accurate is the first step to shaping up your campaigns. It sets the stage for everything that lies ahead.

The cleaner, more segmented and better labeled your products are, the better your results will be in the long run.

Once your feed is optimized to take full advantage of Google’s new format, it will be time to begin building out your campaign structure. Be sure to check back in Week 3 as our experts answer some of your specific questions about both organizing your products and developing your campaign structure. 

Shape Up Shopping Roadmap

Keep track of your progress along the way with our Shape Up Your Shopping Campaigns Roadmap

June 20, 2014

2014 Google Shopping Feed Specification Update

Breaking news for all you online retailers out there! Google just announced today that they have updated the Google Shopping Feed Specification with the following new features:

  • Mobile landing pages: A separate link can now be provided to take mobile shoppers to the appropriate landing page and improve the mobile shopping experience.

  • Merchant-defined custom bundles: Product bundles, (e.g. a mobile phone with car and wall charger), can now be identified and grouped via the “is bundle” attribute.

  • Apparel attributes: To improve product descriptions and search ability for shoppers, new attributes such as “size type” and "size system" are now available.

  • Item availability: Going is the “Available for Order” attribute, which will instead be replaced with the merged “in stock” and “available for order” fields. Also, an “availability date” attribute can be added to let shoppers pre-order.

  • Mandatory character limits: The feed specification now states how many characters are allotted for each attribute in an effort to display product data the most effective way possible. Google Shopping

While the only mandatory update is the character limit, sellers will be required to abide by this format by September 30, 2014 — and online sellers should take advantage of the improved shopping experience these provide.  ChannelAdvisor is currently working to make these changes available to sellers. Stay tuned for a release date!

What does this mean for retailers, though? Google has promised this upgrade will bring greater flexibility when it comes to organizing product data as well as create the potential to reach more consumers.

We at ChannelAdvisor want to make sure retailers have a seamless upgrade. We recommend focusing on two main features — mobile landing pages and mandatory character limits.

  1. Mobile landing pages — for advertisers that don't have server-side redirects, have a slow redirect or do not use responsive design, this should be an opportunity to improve the mobile shopping experience.

  2. Mandatory character limits — depending on data, business rules will need to be implemented and updated to ensure attributes do not exceed the new limits.

Google wants merchants to successfully adapt to these new features. They encourage testing the feed feature or the feed debugger to ensure all updated feeds can be processed accurately.

In the meantime, if you have any additional questions feel free to reach out to ChannelAdvisor via info@channeladvisor.com or call us at 866-264-8594.

June 16, 2014

Shape Up Your Shopping Campaigns: Countdown to August


August is coming soon. You need to shape up.

You’ve probably heard about Google’s switch to Shopping campaigns by now. If not, here’s the deal: Google announced that all retailers have until late August to transition their current Product Listing Ad (PLA) campaigns to the recently released Shopping campaigns format. After the transition date, Google will automatically force all remaining PLA campaigns into the new format without optimization or input from the retailer.

To have a say in how your feed is optimized and which bids are assigned to which products, you’ll need to create the new Shopping campaigns yourself. Before August.

But don’t worry. This is actually a good thing.

Shopping campaigns will allow you to organize and group your products into more granular subcategories than ever before. You’ll also be able to analyze and export metrics based on this segmented approach, as well as gain access to valuable competitor landscape data.

Was your data feed feeling a little feeble recently? Were your ad sales drooping a tad more than they should this time of year, causing you to feel the extra weight of all those inefficient cost-per-click (CPC) bids?

With the clock now ticking, Google has given you a great excuse to dig deeper into your data, fine-tune it and give your PLA campaigns the shape up they need!

As we start our countdown to the August switch, we invite you to join us here on the blog, where we’ll serve as your personal trainer while you shape up your Shopping campaigns. We want to help your business transition to a healthier, revitalized version of itself, and we want it to be as painless as possible. (And if you bear with us, we’ll do our best to keep the fitness-related puns to a minimum.)

ChannelAdvisor is leading the field with full integration with Google’s Shopping campaigns. Our new Product Group Generator feature will help retailers save valuable time building, optimizing and implementing their new campaigns.


Week 1: Educate Yourself

It starts today. Week one is all about learning everything you can about the journey ahead. What are Shopping campaigns? How do they differ from your existing PLA campaigns? How will this switch affect you? What are the benefits? These are the basic questions you need to start addressing if you haven’t already. We’ve already provided some initial materials to help you get started:

A blog post will kick off each of the next few weeks, detailing what you need to be doing at each phase, answering your questions, providing links to supplemental materials and more. We’ll help you get organized, as well as structure, test, measure and ultimately transition to the new campaigns. Your countdown to August looks like this:

Week 2: Organize feed

Week 3: Develop campaign structure

Week 4: Build campaigns with the Product Group Generator

Weeks 5-6: Begin testing

Week 7: Set expectations, report findings

Week 8: Compare old and new campaigns

Week 9: Adjust budgets

Week 10: Finish transition

Sound daunting? It’s not. You can do it. Download our Shape Up Your Shopping Campaigns roadmap, which breaks down each week of the countdown in greater detail. Use it early and often, both during your initial education and as a reference point after you begin the transition.

Like any goal, some of you may reach it more quickly than others. You may be finished with the transition in two weeks. You may have to pace yourself to finish by mid-August. The important thing is that you finish before Google’s mandatory switch and that your new campaigns and PLAs are working effectively for you by then.

That way, you’ll breeze into the autumn months with newfound strength, accuracy, speed and scalability for your digital marketing campaigns. If you fail to meet the deadline, you’ll be forced to play catch-up during the autumn months, and you’ll enter the holiday season with shaky, untested PLA campaigns. But don’t let it come to that. When it comes to the health of your business, procrastination isn’t an option.

If you have any questions along the way, please feel free to email marketing@channeladvisor.com, and we’ll do our best to respond as soon as we can.

It’s time to get excited and get motivated.

Because August will be here soon, and it’s time to shape up!


Blog post by Bradley Hearn, ChannelAdvisor Copywriter

June 12, 2014

ChannelAdvisor's IRCE Expedition 2014

We had the opportunity to attend one of the world’s largest e-commerce events over the past few days — the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition, better known as IRCE. Online retail pioneers came together to deliver an explosion of expertise and insight into the cross-layered web of online shopping. What’s more, this year marked the conference’s tenth birthday. Our pictures below illustrate our team’s journey through in-depth workshops, booth activity and much more.

  IRCE 2014

The grand entrance to IRCE at McCormick Place West in Chicago.


IRCE 2014

2014's IRCE sponsors. Thanks to everyone for supporting an amazing event!

IRCE 2014

Win the Wheels giveaway to a very lucky attendee.

IRCE 2014

Great traffic in the exhibit hall Tuesday evening!

IRCE 2014

ChannelAdvisor's booth setup.

Interested in learning more about ChannelAdvisor — Who we are? What we do? How we think? Contact us at info@channeladvisor.com or 866-264-8594.

June 10, 2014

Australian Webinar – Google Shopping Campaigns: New and Enhanced Techniques for PLAs

In August 2014, Google will be sunsetting its existing product listing ads (PLAs) format in favour of the newly released Google Shopping campaigns, requiring all advertisers to make the transition. After this date, Google will automatically upgrade all PLA campaigns to the new format, regardless of whether retailers have prepared for this switch. It’s therefore essential to understand the changes and work towards optimising your campaigns before August.

Google shopping image


Google’s Shopping campaigns will improve on the current PLA model, offering retail-centric campaign management, advanced reporting down to the individual product ID level and competitive landscape data. As a result, retailers will get enhanced decision-making ability and control over their campaigns.

While Google’s evolution to Shopping campaigns will offer a better way to promote products, it will require you to rebuild your inventory feeds. Google is encouraging retailers to create new campaigns before the changes take effect, pause regular PLA campaigns and optimise inventory, data and labels for the new format. This will ensure all products continue to display as expected.

Together with Power Retail and Google, ChannelAdvisor will host a webinar on everything Australian retailers need to know about the latest updates and how to make the transition sans hiccoughs.

The webinar will cover:

  • An overview of Google’s Shopping campaigns and their key benefits
  • How to get started
  • Details about the new data feed and advanced reporting options
  • Transition tips
  • A timeline for optimising Shopping campaigns

The webinar will be held on Thursday, June 19, at 2 p.m. AEST with Kate Conroy, product specialist at Google, and Sam Clarke, sales engineer at ChannelAdvisor.

Join us for this comprehensive guide to Google’s latest updates and find out how to stay ahead of your competition come August! 

Register for the webinar today!

Blog post by Shani Flynn, ChannelAdvisor marketing copywriter, APAC

Google webinar image


Don't miss our Google Shopping campaigns joint webinar with Google and Power Retail on June 19, 2014. Sign up today. 

June 06, 2014

5 Things You May Have Missed from the Shopping Campaigns Webinar

On Wednesday, Google’s Nicole Premo and ChannelAdvisor’s Jackie Jenkins teamed up to host a webinar aimed at getting retailers up to speed on Google’s new product listing ads (PLA) interface called Shopping campaigns. Didn’t make it to the webinar? Here are five takeaways you’ll want to know.

1. August Is Coming — Fast

Google announced that retailers have until the end of August to transition their current PLA campaigns to the recently released Shopping campaigns format. After this date, Google will force all remaining PLA campaigns into the new format without optimization or input from the retailer.  

2. You’ll Need to Get Granular

Shopping campaigns allow retailers to organize and group inventory into more granular subcategories, such as:

  • Brand

  • Item ID

  • Condition

  • Product type

Then you can assign separate bidding values to each. Products that aren’t assigned specific bids are grouped automatically into an “everything else” category, ensuring that all products are covered within a campaign.

3. More Segmenting Means More Metrics

Google has incorporated this segmented approach into its metrics, enabling retailers to analyze and export performance data by product attribute or by individual products. Depending on a retailer’s business needs, it’s possible to pull specific metrics on a brand, product type or even a product ID.  

4. Get Access to Competitor Insights

With Shopping campaigns, retailers have access to valuable competitive landscape data, including benchmark cost-per-click (CPC), click-through rate (CTR) and impression share estimates. Additionally, a new bid simulator allows retailers to experiment with bidding strategies by providing estimated campaign results at different bid levels.

5. Create Product Groups 37 Times Faster

The new ChannelAdvisor Product Group Generator saves retailers valuable time when setting up their Shopping campaigns. In fact, the Product Group Generator structured an entire campaign 37 times faster than it took to build manually. Once setup is complete, the campaign remains in sync with a retailer’s product data feed, eliminating the need for manual updates when changes are made.

Product Group Template

Creating a template with ChannelAdvisor’s Product Group Generator.

To view the webinar in its entirety, download the recorded version here.   


Blog post by Gregory Ives, Product Marketing Manager, Digital Marketing

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June 03, 2014

Google’s New Search Network with Display Select

The Story Behind Google’s New Search Network with Display Select

In an effort to boost the use of Display Network advertising among AdWords users, Google recently announced a new, opt-in program that combines traditional paid search with an enhanced display network called Search Network with Display Select.

The program uses the keyword targets that retailers set for their paid search campaigns and surfaces display ads on webpages featuring content with those keywords. The webpages where the ads populate are those within Google’s Display Network, which includes 2 million publisher sites and reaches 90% of global internet users.  

Display Select is intended to choose networks more carefully with predictive filtering of websites based on the likelihood that the audience will be interested in the ads.  As for its success, Google claims that Search Network with Display Select will add 15% more customers by showing your ads on selected keyword-targeted webpages.  

There are two options with the Search Network and Display Select: Standard and All Features.  

Search Network with Display Select


  • Keyword-targeted text ads for Search Network with Display Select

  • “The basics”

  • All devices

  • Location targeting (basic)

  • Bid, budget

  • Ad extensions (location, sitelinks and call) only

  • Unavailable: the Display Network tab (no targeting methods)

All Features

  • Advanced capabilities: all the bells and whistles

  • Allows Shopping

  • Location targeting (advanced)

  • Ad scheduling, ad rotation, delivery method control

  • Ad extensions (location, sitelinks, call, app, reviews)

  • Dynamic search ads

  • Display Network tab for targeting methods

Our Take

The Search Network with Display Select would be a really interesting program if it were just for display, but we strongly recommend that online retailers keep their search and display networks separate to better control bids, budgets, ROI and performance goals.  

Google, in fact, recommends that retailers who currently have separate programs keep them separate.  

As mentioned above, we’d really like to see a Display Select Only offering to understand how the traffic and metrics compare to a Display Network Only campaign.  It would also be interesting to see how the performance compared over time with the filters and refinement offered by Display Select.  

Those interested in giving the program a whirl can start right away — this campaign type is currently available in AdWords.  

Meanwhile, we’ll be watching the results and keeping our fingers crossed for a Display Select Only offering.   


Blog post by LoriAnne Ottman, ChannelAdvisor business analyst

May 27, 2014

How Much Was eBay Affected by Google’s Panda Update?

Panda 4.0Google's latest algorithm update, Panda 4.0, affects eBay retailers. Get the scoop in our latest eBay Strategies blog post

May 23, 2014

Expert Insights: Spring Release with Jackie Jenkins

ChannelAdvisor recently unveiled its 2014 Spring Release, with the tagline “Making Retail Smarter.”  Today we’ll chat with Jackie Jenkins, ChannelAdvisor Sr. Product Manager, about the headliner in this release: Digital Marketing.

Q:  Hi Jackie.  Can you share with us what you do at ChannelAdvisor?

Jackie JenkinsA: Sure.  I’ve been with ChannelAdvisor for 4 years, working closely with customers as well as services and engineering team members to drive ChannelAdvisor’s vision for its advertising solutions. This includes feature developments for paid search, remarketing, comparison shopping, social and product ads. Prior to ChannelAdvisor I worked for Google, managing $10 million worth of quarterly ad revenue for advertisers.  

Q: The theme of the 2014 Spring Release is “Making Retail Smarter.”  What can retailers expect from smarter digital marketing?

A: Well, digital marketing is a super-complicated space--not only do retailers have, literally, hundreds of potential sites to list their products on, they also have to measure traffic and product performance on each of these sites.  We’ve found that many are struggling with this due to the fact that their digital marketing channels are managed by different parties--for example, they may be outsourcing the management of their paid search campaigns to one agency, their social campaigns to another, and managing shopping channels in house.  Managing things this way makes it incredibly hard to reconcile data from all these different areas for a holistic view of performance that enables smarter spending of their digital dollars.

With the Spring Release, we’re offering online sellers the ability to manage all of their digital marketing programs through the ChannelAdvisor platform, so they can send us one data feed that we’ll optimize and distribute to all of their relevant digital marketing channels.  Sellers can then see their performance--down to the product level--and make smarter future decisions based upon where they are seeing the greatest ROI.

Q: What are you most excited about in this release?

A: It’s tough to pick just one thing, so I’m going to cheat and pick 2.

  1. Our new Portfolio Bidder is pretty exciting, mainly because it’s delivering incredible results.  For background, the Portfolio Bidder uses a proprietary algorithm to predict optimal bids to maximize revenue. We have retailers who have seen as much as a 300% lift in conversion rates, which is pretty exciting,  all while keeping overall effective revenue share (ERS) in line with goals. What’s extra cool is that the Portfolio bidder gets smarter over time by conducting ongoing bid combination experiments and incorporating successes.
  2. The second feature I’m excited about is our Actionable Retail Insights. As I mentioned earlier, there is a lot for retailers to think about when they are selling online. Actionable Retail Insights surface all the relevant information necessary for retailers to make smarter, metrics-based  business decisions.  For example: 
    • Conversion Path reporting- to better understand how a user’s path to purchase impacts things like Average Order Value
    • Product Opportunity Reporting- to make sure you have complete visibility into where your top products are selling

I’m also pretty excited about Merchant Promotions, but I know you guys spent a good amount of time covering that with Matt Jones so I’ll skip it here.  

Q: We can definitely see how these solutions make retailers smarter!  Thanks for your time, Jackie.  Can you leave us with any hints of what’s next for ChannelAdvisor Digital Marketing?

A: Most of that is highly qualified, but I would suggest that retailers join me and Google for our webinar on Google Shopping campaigns on June 4th, especially since Shopping campaigns are going to be mandatory as of August 2014.  We’ll be filling retailers in on everything they need to know about Shopping campaigns, and what they need to do to switch over. 




Wednesday, June 4 at 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT